CONFLICT

The term 'conflict' has wide connotation. It is subject to different interpretations in different context. It is generally referred to a psychological state of mind where a person cannot decide the behaviour this way or that way. Sometimes, the term is used as a difference of opinion between two persons or groups irrespective of their status in the organization. For example, we say, they have conflicting views. No less frequent is the phenomenon where people are engaged in showdowns, each party developing strategies to meet the challenge of the other and get polarized into two warring groups. Conflict is a powerful process having both desirable and undesirable consequences, so, it cannot be eliminated, it can be and should be managed properly and timely.

The figure shows conflict between two men

Conflicts may be at individual level, group level and at organizational level. At all levels, it may develop and be managed. In resolving a conflict, managers should first diagnose the causes of conflict and then think of the strategy for a particular kind of conflict. There may be different strategies to be used to handle the conflict efficiently in different cases.

Conflict may arise within an organization or outside it. Both affect the work efficiency of the individual and of the group because people engaged in conflict are busy in planning out the strategy to shown down the other party. So, they are not at work by heart and thus, it affects the productivity and efficiency of the individual, group and the organization. It should be resolved as early as possible.

Definition of Conflict

Conflict can be defined in many ways and can be considered as an expression of hostility, negative attitudes, antagonism, aggression, rivalry and misunderstanding. It is also associated with situations that involve contradictory or irreconcilable interests between two opposing groups. A few definitions of conflict are as given below :

"A simple definition of conflict is that it is any tension which is experienced when one person perceives that one's needs or desires are likely to be thwarted or frustrated".

Mary Parker Follett simply defines conflict as, "the appearance of difference, difference of opinions, of interests".

Thomas Chung and Rich Megginson define conflict as, "the struggle between incompatible or struggling needs, wishes, ideas, interests or people. Conflict arises when individuals or groups encounter goals that both parties cannot obtain satisfactorily".

According to David L. Austin (1972), "It can be defined as a disagreement between two or more individuals or groups, with each individual or group trying to gain acceptance of its view or objectives over others".

Louis R. Pondy (1938-1987) has given a very comprehensive definition of conflict. According to him the term conflict is used in four ways in the literature to describe :

The figure shows conflict in the team

Conflict can take on any of several different forms in an organization. It can occur within an employee, between individuals or groups and across organizations. Thus, the different types of conflicts are: intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup and interorganizational conflict. It is important to note that the prefix intra means "within", whereas inter means "between". A brief description of each of these follows :

Conflict: Definition

Peace and conflict research assume that

(a) conflicts are the expression of opposing interests

(b) that they are characteristic for modern societies

(c) that they are endemic in modern societies

A conflict exists when two people wish to carry out acts which are mutually inconsistent. They may both want to do the same thing, such as eat the same apple, or they may want to do different things where the different things are mutually incompatible, such as when they both want to stay together but one wants to go to the cinema and the other to stay at home. A conflict is resolved when some mutually compatible set of actions is worked out. The definition of conflict can be extended from individuals to groups (such as states or nations) and more than two parties can be involved in the conflict. The principles remain the same."(M. Nicholson: Rationality and the Analysis of International Conflict, 1992:11)

Contrary to earlier expectations, the +;+ analysis - prevention +;+ management, and – resolution of conflicts do not aim at the elimination of conflict and even less at the elimination of opposing interests. Its aim is the search for such forms of conflict behaviour which allow a non-violent handling of interest oppositions in an orderly, pre-arranged process, the course and result of which will be accepted by all parties involved +;+ be it out of well-understood, rationally calculated self-interest be it out of respect for the shadow of the future, i.e., the expectation of a retaliatory action of the other side if one disappoints its expectations (the principle of every deterrence strategy).

Friction or Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. It is defined as the problem in any piece of literature and is often classified according to the nature of the protagonist or antagonist, as follows:

 
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